♡ My Story ♡
I have taught middle school math for four years and it has been an amazing experience. In my short tenure as a teacher, this profession has proven to be an extremely rewarding career. Despite all the positives, there can be very stressful aspects of teaching. While in my first year of teaching, I suffered from severe abdominal pain. I frequently experienced stress related illnesses and little did I know, there was no turning back. Eventually, after many months of excruciating pain, multiple visits to specialists and numerous tests, I was diagnosed with IBS-C, Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Constipation Dominant. At only 25 years old, being diagnosed with a condition that most thought to be “incurable” was a low point in my life. I had IBS – C and my doctors had only pharmaceutical and psychological treatment plans for what they considered a “mental disorder.” Many suggested that I change my career and I heard from almost every doctor that I brought IBS upon myself and that it’s all in my head. Do you know how frustrating and hurtful that felt?
When I was diagnosed, I lived in Upstate New York and worked as a teacher in Westchester County. I spent two years trying different diets and treatments to minimize my symptoms; nothing worked. I was not consistent and I was not eating properly or just not eating. I would starve myself at school in hopes of avoiding embarrassing accidents. The doctors said my intestines actually appeared burned because of the damage I had caused. I no longer had control over my bowel movements. My intestines had become so inflamed and severely damaged that I lost the urge to go to bathroom. Every second I felt pain, the best I could hope for was “severe discomfort”. I had many accidents at work and it seemed there was nothing I could do to prevent them. One day I decided to take a jog in attempt to clear my mind – only seven minutes later I had to make an embarrassing phone call to my mother. I had an accident. I sat on the side of the road in a pool of tears. I was so angry with myself. I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. To look at me from the outside I never showed my despair; I always smiled, but at night while alone in bed, I would cry until I would fall asleep.
The majority of the medical professions believe that IBS is incurable and this discouraged me from even attempting to healing myself. I became even more stressed and melancholy. I was never told of any natural solutions or alternative therapies, nor did I seek any because how could anything natural take the place of medication or psychotherapy? I agreed to just live with it, attempted to accept it. I was filled with self-pity and a full two years of hopelessness.
After a total of eleven days absent from work for various tests, visits to medical “specialists,” and rest time, I grew even more worried, anxious, and embarrassed. Returning to work I was mortified of the noises that would emanate from my stomach, and I was so bloated I looked pregnant. I dreaded attending grade level meetings because inevitably as soon as the room quieted down, my stomach would start its firework show. It was very humiliating and painful. Anytime my stomach growled, pain came with it. I would stare up at the clock just waiting, praying for the students to arrive so the meeting would finish. After a while, I knew I couldn’t live like this. I went from eating whatever I wanted, to not eating at all in hopes of avoiding the pain. I went from clear skin, to acne caused by my IBS. I went from happy go lucky to sad and depressed. This had to change.
After meeting a very special person, I was introduced to a healthier life style and to the meditation practice. Shortly after, I was then introduced to a new, amazing and inspiring friend who taught me so much about everything I now know. It took me one year of wanting to give up and wanting to cheat on my eating plan, but finally I succeeded in eradicating all my IBS symptoms. Everyone asks me, “How did you do it?” “What you did doesn’t seem like rocket science,” and they are absolutely right. Let me make this clear; if you are suffering from IBS, you do not have a mental disorder and it is not all in your head. You do not need to spend any money on co-payments to specialists that will only prescribe medication. All you need is a determined, rebellious, and positive mindset.
The reason I am cured of IBS is because I was and still am consistent with my lifestyle. I am a completely new person. If I continued to go on the same path I had been on, my symptoms would still be here. If I wanted to get rid of this terrible syndrome, then I had to devote myself completely to getting rid of it. This took at least 6 months of hard work and training of the body and mind. Even though I am cured, my job is still not over. I am so thankful that I no longer have symptoms but that was just the first of many challenges. My next challenge is to reverse my food intolerances so I can go back to the way I was before I turned 25. I believe that my gut will be even healthier than it was before I was diagnosed. Alongside this goal, my next mission is to help others to change their lifestyle so they too no longer have to live in pain, embarrassment and despair.
How I defeated IBS – The Start of A New Me
I tried many things but none in conjunction with each other – never made a complete lifestyle change. I would eat healthy but would not work out or I worked out and would not eat at all. There was no regime that I followed. Doctors told me to take probiotics but never told me when and how much. I felt alone and knew nothing about how to help myself. I started to empower myself by taking my health into my own hands. I started researching. I read articles and read everything I could find on nutrition and health websites. I took bits and pieces of information from others and created my own plan to tackle this syndrome.
Eventually I was able to heal my gut with a healthy routine and at little cost. It took discipline, not rocket science. I completely eliminated simple carbohydrates like sugar, white bread, and pasta. I did not consume any dairy, fruit juice, dried fruit, gluten (only gluten free), gassy foods, or alcohol. I also stopped chewing gum and used peppermint as a substitute. I did not eat any spicy foods or drink any caffeine as it can cause inflammation in the digestive tract. The only beverages I drank were water, Kombucha, Kefir water, teas, and lots of bone broth. IBS causes you to lose out on proteins so my diet also consisted of eating more protein-rich foods (very little red meats) to replace the proteins that were lost. Along with my healthy diet, I meditated, rested, and exercised daily. The only pills I took were Ultimate Flora’s probiotics and any supplements (vitamins and minerals).
Beano is a digestive enzyme that I would take to reduce bloating, discomfort, and flatulence caused by gas. I also increased my fish oil intake as it reduces inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Rubbing essential oils on my abdomen such as ginger, peppermint, fennel, cinnamon, bark, thieves, and clove helped to reduce and soothe my symptoms. Another way I found to soothe those symptoms is by drinking water or tea with 1 drop of any of these (therapeutic grade) essential oils.
My symptoms subsided in the first two weeks and after a year I didn’t recognize my own body. I was at a healthy weight, I was well rested with lots of energy throughout the day and most importantly, I had been lifted out of my cavern of despair. I was regular and healthy once again. I’ve been IBS symptom free for almost 11 months now and am living proof that this disease is curable, even if it is a bit tough to figure out. My message to others suffering with IBS is that you too can do it, and without any pharmaceuticals!
Why Was I So Successful?
My consistency and commitment to my regimen caused my body to heal and rebalance itself quickly. Our bodies are designed this way. It’s difficult for me to believe that these simple changes would be all it took to make such a significant change in my life. It is important to realize that with support, dedication, perseverance, patience, and consistency, the digestive system can restore itself and become better than new. This does not take a week to fix. As I stated earlier, it took six months for my body to fully heal itself, even though the symptoms lessened shortly after two weeks.
In regards to stress, meditation has been and still is a lifesaver! By simply minimizing negative emotions of anxiety, nervousness and exhaustion, my body was better able to heal. My job still has the same amount of stress as before, but now because of meditation I am able to deal with it differently and not let stress effect my health. I have learned a lot about breath work. I now understand that focusing on my breath during or after a stressful event is key and helps to dissipate and alleviate much of the anxiety. Breath work can actually help to rebuild your nervous system and increase your tolerance to stress.
Continuing on with My New Lifestyle
Each and every day, I continue with my regime. It has become an integral part of me now. Just because I cured myself doesn’t mean I will stop. I love my new life. I am happier, balanced, healthier, and have an enhanced gut! I also learned to save money by exercising at home and outside; cooking at home (which is so much healthier), and soon I will make my own Kombucha and Kefir. I continue to take my daily dose of probiotics, which is a great component for healing IBS. Keep in mind that Kefir, Kombucha, Miso soup, and yogurt (which I do not eat) contain probiotics. Probiotics can help re-colonize the gut with healthy bacteria as it kills bad bacteria. Also, when you eliminate sugars from your diet, you are increasing the effect of probiotics that you consume because sugars do influence the survival of probiotics in the gut. Bacteria love to eat sugar and sugar reduces immune system functioning – yet another cause of the bloating and gas pain I felt.
Side Note* – I became very nauseous and did not know why. I was drinking one 16oz glass of Kombucha along with one pill that contained 80 billion probiotics. Way too much! All I did was lower my dosage and I now consume 1 pill 40 billion probiotics and 8oz of Kombucha daily. I highly recommend that you seek medical advice as to how much probiotics you should take daily before doing what I did.
I learned to relax and unwind through meditation. Every morning I meditate for 10 minutes and when I struggle to fall asleep, I’ll meditate for another 5 – 10 minutes. Ten minutes of daily practice will help you to become in tune with your inner self. Meditation increases blood flow, metabolic activity and oxygenation, which combats powerful bacteria. I use the free Insight Timer app. You can meditate anywhere and it is extremely beneficial. Meditation helped me to embrace my worries, fears, pain, and anger; which has been very healing. Meditation is very hard to master at first but you can do it. Eliminate as many distractions as possible, turn off your cell phone ringer and quiet all other electronics. Relax and let go of everything. I love turning off the radio on my way to work for the first 10 minutes to free myself of all the worries and just drive.
My Routine – Strict 6 Months: No Cheating
- Meditate for 10 minutes as soon as I wake
- Drink 16 oz. of water – (This fires up your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, gives your brain fuel, and may even make you eat less)
- I then take 1 shot of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother (unpasteurized). This is a gut cleansing power machine and can be diluted with water or raw honey.
- Exercise 30 – 45 minutes – (Start your day off in a better mood, increased energy, burn more fat, and upon many other benefits, you’ll feel less stressed)
- After my workout I drink 4 oz. of homemade bone broth (5 times a week)
- Healthy breakfast (I love oatmeal with organic honey and bananas)
- After I eat breakfast, I take my Ultimate Flora’s probiotic pill (1)
- Pack homemade meals and snacks for work (eat 6 times a day: 3 snacks 3 meals)
- I drink GT’s Kombucha prior to lunch (My favorite part of the day) ☺
- Throughout the day I stay hydrated with water – (I do not drink water while eating. It’s important to drink a half hour before eating and wait an hour after eating).
- Before bed, I rub the essential oils onto my abdomen.
- When I have difficulty sleeping I also meditate for 10 minutes.
Side Note* – I know that a realistic, sustainable lifestyle is not being so strict on yourself. I understand that holidays come and vacations are planned. This was the hardest obstacle I faced. There were times that I felt guilty and wanted to binge but I remembered and focused on all the pain and how far I’ve come. I did not want to go backwards. Once you heal yourself, if you feel like you can enjoy a snack or two, then do it! I enjoy myself as well, but it’s 10% of the time. My body is so used to this healthy way of living now, that I do not crave as much as I used to. When I get those cravings, I follow healthy, yet delicious snack options. I also brush my teeth as the peppermint tends to deter those cravings. I am following a few people with healthy and scrumptious recipes. These recipes leave you feeling guilt free and healthy at the same time. Follow me on Instagram for daily informational support at ibs_healing.
& Finally . . .
I learned that every situation brings a blessing. I learned to embrace my IBS; not simply accept it and live my life chained to pain and prescriptions. I accepted it, embraced it and used this experience to help me grow and to help others. I have learned so much because of this situation and now I can say thank you to IBS! I took all the negatives and turned them into positives. I worked with it, empowered myself and then tackled it. Had I never had this syndrome I would never have embarked on a lifestyle change. If not for IBS I would not be where I am today… a much healthier and happier place. ❤
Disclaimer– This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease.